Skippylongstocking Powers to Score in Oaklawn Handicap

April 21, 2024

Skippylongstocking victorious in the Oaklawn Handicap (Coady Photography)

Informed Patriot Gave Asmussen an Exacta with Bathhouse Row Win

Winnable Corners Fav for Valley of the Vapors Victory

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By Robert Yates – Oaklawn Park

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking took command late on the second turn and powered to a two-length victory over a game Highland Falls in the $1.25 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses Saturday afternoon at Oaklawn.

Favored at 5-2 before an estimated on-track crowd of 30,000, Skippylongstocking gave Florida-based trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. his first career Oaklawn victory and recorded consecutive victories for the first time in his 23-race career.

Highland Falls, a regally bred son of Oaklawn stakes winners Curlin and Round Pond, closed well late to finish three lengths ahead of millionaire Red Route One, who was followed, in order, by Reincarnate, Magic Tap, Last Samurai, Octane, County Final, Instant Coffee, Guntown and Double Crown.

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Skippylongstocking broke cleanly from post 10 and stalked County Final, his stablemate, through fractions of :23.21, :47.62 and 1:11.99 for 6 furlongs. 

Skippylongstocking ($7.60) easily took the lead on the outside passing the five-sixteenths pole and was three lengths clear in midstretch. Under top weight of 122 pounds, Skippylongstocking covered 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in a meet-best 1:49.

A 5-year-old son of Exaggerator, Skippylongstocking increased his career earnings to $2,291,685 following his eighth career victory. A six-time stakes winner, Skippylongstocking was coming off a 2 ½-length score in the $100,000 G3-Challenger for older horses at 1 1/16 miles March 9 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Alonso purchased Skippylongstocking for $37,000 at the 2021 OBS Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training. 

As part of the Maryland Jockey Club’s “Win Today, See You in May Series,” Skippylongstocking’s Oaklawn Handicap victory earned him automatic entry into the $250,000 G3-Pimlico Special at 1 3/16 miles May 17 at Pimlico. 

Skippylongstocking was among seven graded stakes winners in the Oaklawn Handicap, which had a record purse in 2024. It was previously worth $1 million. 

Oaklawn Handicap Quotes

Winning Jockey (Jose Ortiz/Skippylongstocking): “Broke really clean. The other horse next to me (County Final) went to the lead. Happy to just track him. My horse was relaxed every step of the way, so I was very happy. When I asked him to go, he responded very well.”

Winning Trainer (Saffie Joseph Jr./Skippylongstocking): “He got him away cleanly and put himself in a perfect spot. That’s kind of the ideal spot he likes to be in, so Jose (Ortiz) did a great job in doing that. The horse came away from there running. He was running consistent numbers before the (Jan. 27) Pegasus. I thought that (being pulled up) was a big blemish. Seemed like he overheated that day. You never know for sure. We did all kind of tests on him. He was perfect after. We went to Tampa, but it was a big relief at Tampa (winning the Challenger Stakes). Then, you still need to see him step forward again. I think today he ran the best race of his career. He just liked the cooler climate in Hot Springs. He loved it.”

Second-Place Jockey (Florent Geroux/Highland Falls): “Very nice horse. Inexperienced, but I thought it was his best race to date. He ran very good. I was in a good spot. I was able to keep him where I wanted to. He was chasing the winner. He was trying very hard. He just couldn’t catch him.”

Third-Place Jockey (Joel Rosario/Red Route One): “He made his move like he always does. He put a nice run at the end. Just couldn’t catch those two in front of him.”

Informed Patriot Gave Asmussen an Exacta with Bathhouse Row Win

Informed Patriot. (Coady Photography)
Informed Patriot (inside) gets the win in the Bathhouse Row (Coady Photography)

It was a Hall of Fame exacta in the $200,000 Bathhouse Row Stakes as trainer Steve Asmussen saddled the first two finishers in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Informed Patriot, ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr., edged Imperial Gun by a head to give Asmussen his record-extending 113th career Oaklawn stakes victory and record third in the Bathhouse Row.

Informed Patriot, owned by Texans Kirk and Judy Robison, was exiting a fifth-place finish in the $1.5 million G1-Arkansas Derby March 30 at Oaklawn. 

In the Bathhouse Row, Informed Patriot ($8.80) shadowed front-running Maximus Magic through six furlongs in a modest 1:13.89 and shook clear turning for home. Informed Patriot led by a length in midstretch and held off a fast-closing Imperial Gun at the finish. 

Informed Patriot’s winning time over a fast track was 1:51.48. Imperial Gun finished four lengths ahead of Gould’s Gold, who was followed, in order, by Maximus Magic, Brilliant Man, Count Dracula and 5-2 favorite Militant. Willy D’s was a late scratch.

Informed Patriot, a son of Hard Spun, raised his career earnings to $313,140 following his second victory from eight starts. The Bathhouse Row was his first career stakes victory.

Informed Patriot earned automatic entry into the Preakness May 18 at Pimlico with his Bathhouse Row victory. The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Asmussen also won the inaugural running of the Bathhouse Row (then known as the Oaklawn Invitational) in 2019 with Laughing Fox and again last year with Red Route One.

Bathhouse Row Quotes

Winning Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr./Informed Patriot): “When I rode him in the (Arkansas) Derby, I was kind of stuck. I didn’t have anywhere to go. Then, I had to wait turning for home. I took him out and he finished fifth. I told (trainer Steve Asmussen) I think I’m going to be a little closer today than last time because I was saying I was way too far back. And today, the first time he took the lead turning for home, I thought I was going to win by 10. Then, at the (sixteenth pole), I don’t know what he looked (at). You can see he put his ears up and I’m looking for my company. Then, he heard the horse (Imperial Gun) on the side of him. He’s game to the wire.”

Winning Trainer (Steve Asmussen/Informed Patriot): “He did exactly that (improve). Ricardo (Santana Jr.) got him away from there cleanly today. He was in a perfect, comfortable position. He ran a really nice race. The horse is a great big, beautiful horse. Just getting better. Just very proud of his win today.”

Winnable Corners Fav for Valley of the Vapors Victory

Winnable (outside). (Coady Photography)
Winnable (outside) lives up to her name in the Valley of the Vapors (Coady Photography)

Lightly raced Winnable made a successful dirt debut, collaring favored Neom Beach on the outside near the wire to capture the $200,000 Valley of the Vapors Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Ridden by Colby Hernandez, Winnable ($6.60) edged Neom Beach by a head, with Tx Women for Arts another 5 ½ lengths farther back in third. Her final time for the one-mile race was 1:39.38.

Winnable, by 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, made her first two career starts on a synthetic surface at Turfway Park. She was exiting a runner-up finish in the $300,000 Bourbonette Oaks at 1 1/16 miles March 23.

Kenny McPeek trains Winnable for Stoneleigh Farm (Joseph B. Murphy II).

Valley Of The Vapors Quotes

Winning Jockey (Colby Hernandez/Winnable): “Coming out of the (9 hole), she was the last horse loaded and then they popped them pretty quick on her and she didn’t break as sharp as I wanted. But after that, being a good horse like she is, she overcame all that. I think she was really just getting going at the top of the stretch. When she switched to her right (leg) lead, she started digging, finding more and more down the stretch.”

Winning Trainer (Kenny McPeek/Winnable): “Lovely filly. She’s been a bit of a project. She had some little issues as a 2-year-old. She’s obviously overcome them. Not really (concerned about going to the dirt). She’s done everything we’ve ever asked her to do. She’s very versatile. I wasn’t worried at all.”

“I enjoy the fresh take and straight shooting from Jonathan Stettin in his Past the Wire column.”

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